Wednesday, December 21, 2016

NO ROOM IN THE INN.


ANO ROOM IN THE INN.@
Christmas Midnight.  Lk. 2:1-14.
AIM:   To help the hearers make room for Jesus Christ.
 
We have less hard information about Jesus= birth than most people suppose. We don=t even know the date: December 25th was not selected until the fourth century. Nor do we know exactly where Mary gave birth to her child, save that it was not in what then passed for an inn at Bethlehem.
The innkeeper was a busy man in those days. The roads were full of travelers, because of the Roman-imposed census, which required people to return to their native town to be placed on the tax rolls. There was much to do at the inn, and money to be made. According to the age-old law of supply and demand, guests were doubled up, and prices raised. When Mary and Joseph appeared at his door, the innkeeper saw at once that these humble travelers were not the kind of guests he was looking for. He might have said, AYou can=t afford it.@ Instead he told them, a bit more tactfully, ANo room@ C and slammed the door. The innkeeper never knew it. But with those two words, ANo room,@ he had missed out on the greatest opportunity life would ever offer him.
It would be unfair to portray the Bethlehem innkeeper as a bad person. His words to Mary and Joseph, ANo room,@ would be repeated often in the next three decades. For the world to which Jesus came had in truth no room for him, though it was his world. As we shall hear tomorrow, in our third Christmas gospel: AHe came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him@ (Jn. 1:11).
The ancient world into which Jesus was born had in Rome a temple called the Pantheon, with room for a hundred gods. But for the Son of the one true God there was no room in Rome=s Pantheon. Nor was there room for him in his own country C until people finally found room for him: on a hill called Calvary. 


Has the situation changed in two thousand years? Would there be room for Jesus Christ if he were to come to the world today? to St. Louis? A person would have to be bold indeed to be confident of an affirmative answer to that question. Down through the centuries, and still today, the innkeeper=s words resound: ANo room, no room.@ And doors are slammed at his approach.
Why is there no room for Jesus Christ? Because people are afraid C afraid that if they give him room, he will take too much room; that little by little this man will take over their lives, changing their interests, their priorities, their plans, until they are no longer recognizable. 
Is this fear justified? It is. If we admit Jesus Christ, he will indeed change our lives, and us. He will take all the room there is. No wonder that people are afraid. AIt is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,@ we read in the letter to the Hebrews (10:31).
There is, however, something even more fearful. It is this: to try to shut out this guest. For unlike other travelers, Jesus will not go away. He will continue to knock on our door, no matter how often we tell him, ANo room.@ The hand with which he knocks bears the print of the nails which pierced him in the place where, finally, people did find room for him. His persistence, like his patience and his love, are more than super-human. They are divine. He is the personification of the love that will never let us go.
Today, in this hour, Jesus Christ is asking for room in your life. He asks one thing, and one thing alone: that you open the door. 
Some verses of an old hymn, little known to Catholics, say it best.
 
O Jesus, you are standing, outside the fast-closed door,
In lowly patience waiting, to pass the threshold o=er.
Shame on us, Christian people, his name and sign who bear,
Shame, thrice shame upon us, to keep him standing there.
 
O Jesus, you are knocking, and lo, that hand is scarred,
And thorns your brow encircle, and tears your face have marred.
O love that passes knowledge, so patiently to wait.
O sin that has no equal, so fast to bar the gate!
 


O Jesus, you are pleading, in accents meek and low,

AI died for you, my children, and will you treat me so?@

O Lord, with shame and sorrow, we open now the door;
            Dear Savior enter, enter, and leave us nevermore.